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Accuracy and Precision

Data that is close to a measured value versus data that is grouped closely together.

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Feeding the Ducks

How do accuracy and precision affect scientific experiments?

Credit: Little Mountain 5
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Duck_Yosemite.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0


Accuracy and precision are both vital components to a successful scientific experiment.

It’s a lovely day out and you decide to go to the duck pond. You bring a loaf of bread, break it up into little pieces, and begin to throw it at a duck. The first throw hits the duck’s beak. The second throw lands a few feet to the left of the duck. The third throw lands a few feet to the right of the duck.

Creative Applications

  1. How accurate were each of your throws?
  2. How precise were your three throws combined?
  3. You decide to give the duck more bread and throw out 3 more pieces. All of them land an inch away from the duck’s beak. How precise and accurate were your throws?
  4. Finally you try one more time and throw out 3 more pieces. All of them land right in front of the duck’s beak. How precise and accurate were your throws?
  5. How can you relate this to a chemistry experiment? Why is it important to have controlled experiments?
  6. Make a conclusion. What exactly does accuracy mean? How about precision? How are they similar and how are they different?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Little Mountain 5; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Duck_Yosemite.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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